A group of Universities (UPM, UPV) and companies (Agile Content, Eumovil, Ericsson and Inmomatica) have joined forces to develop Immersive TV, a R&D project that allows viewers to naturally interact with the actions being broadcast and even participate in the scene.
With a budget of €2.7 million and co-funded by the Ministry of Industry, Immersive TV has been tested with two pilots, the so-called CAVETM Scenario with audiences physically entering the scene and interacting with the surrounding content; and the Living Room Scenario which reflects future home settings. The companies involved in the project believe that the first TV sets ready for the immersive 4D TV will be available in three years time. The needed software would be installed in STBs, middleware, content delivery network (CDN) or TV device. The system would also use additional devices, such as environmental control devices, and domotics (home automation) with the aim of increasing the sensation of being immersed.
The first pilot took place in a virtual “cave” in a space comprised by three screens where audiences are physically present in the scene and can interact with the content that surrounds them. 3D images were projected and some objects were inserted into the scene in real time.
In the second pilot, the aim was making the viewer feel part of the scene from the living room. 3D content and domotic elements with sensors, 3D audio systems, mood lighting and accentual lighting, scent diffusers and smoke diffusers, and even moving furniture elements such as the sofa were used to create the immerse sensation. A professional football match was broadcast on a large screen. Among other applications, the system allowed users to know the match statistics, repeat the most important plays, access interactive advertising, select a player and view information about him, zoom into the various elements of his uniform, and even purchase an identical item.
According to Indra, the leading company of the project, these two pilots “opens the door in Spain to a new market for the production and consumption of content based on immersion that currently does not form part of the traditional consumption market. Its development could allow significant advances in other sectors, such as cognitive immersion for helping people with special needs, guidance systems for surgery and telesurgery, marketing and e-commerce initiatives that include tours or virtual product tests, augmented reality systems that facilitate audience comprehension of events, or immersive video conferencing applications for work teams at different geographic locations. In fact, the system is highly flexible in terms of expanding the array of associated commands, which means that in the future, it will be possible to add new functionalities or even improve existing business models, such as social TV and Internet content”.
The immersive platform would also provide new functionalities in terms of the systems currently available on the market, such as integration with advertising, product placement or merchandising, through 3D objects and information related to the content.